Press release - creating a future Proof manufacturing industry by the futureSME team from The University of Strathclyde.

Parliamentary event held in Edinburgh on Tuesday 23rd October, 2012.

This event was held to disseminate the work that the team at The University of Strathclyde, led by Prof Umit Bititci has been conducting on SMEs across Europe and in particular in Scotland since 2009.

The Strathclyde Institute for Operations Management has led a European FP7 funded multinational project entitled futureSME aimed at developing new business models to enhance the competitive capacities of manufacturing SMEs. The project resulted in the development of a Competitive Capability model and a prototype manufacturing support environment, which has been tested across many manufacturing SMEs throughout Scotland and Europe.

Chic Brodie MSP who was the sponsor of this event welcomed everyone to the event and commented on how this work by the Strathclyde was essential to the Scottish economy as it paves the way forward for many of our organisations. He could also comment that the www.futureSME.eu  has been a 4 year European funded FP7 project valued at 8m Euros.

Chic Brodie introduced Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism who commented on how initiatives like this are supported by him and his office. Fergus went on to discuss the merits of promoting the Scottish Manufacturing sector especially SMEs as they accounted for more than 98% of businesses in Scotland and this type of research will help the economy and jobs. The Minister went on to talk briefly about his own experiences of running and owning a small business and the challenges that had. He asked the audience if they had any issues or concerns with Government applications, planning or indeed any issues with running their business in Scotland they should talk to him and his office. He stated his door was always open to businesses.

Fergus Ewing introduced Prof Umit Bititci who explained the background to the project and the outcomes that have emanated from it. The objective we had set was to try and create a future Proof manufacturing industry and the research team had produced a publication which outlined many questions that needed answered and was available in the packs as well as on line in the futureSME.eu portal.

Umit introduced his team and a demonstration of the web portal was presented by Garry Smith the developer of the much of the detail. Garry explained that the portal contained diagnostic tools that organisation could use to find out how efficient their organisation was and then access tools that would help them improve their competitiveness.

Short case-studies of Scottish companies who have used or been influenced by  www.futureSME.eu were discussed Linn products, led by Gilad Tiefenbrun, MD are a Scottish company that has had a variety of development and innovative products and services which have shaped the music industry. Today Linn supports and develops  artists and music streaming for downloading, complementing  their hi-fi product range. Gilad talked about how futureSME transformed the way they manage their strategy with particular reference to the visual strategy concept widely accepted as a key method to develop business.

Houston Bottling & Co-pack – an independent company, established in 1988, which has grown to provide bottling and co-packing to the Scotch whisky industry from its bonded warehouses in Renfrew and Dumbarton. Bill Dickie, MD who is retiring from the organisation will discuss how futureSME helped the board and company improve the way they developed their business strategy using the tools and techniques outlined by futureSME.

Umit introduced 2 short European video case-studies of how the influence of Strathclyde’s futureSME research project has had across Europe. The first of these was Roco an Irish manufacturing company who specialise in concrete and agricultural equipment discussed how the capability diagnostic and the visual strategy has helped them to think together, act together and reflect together… emphasising that this is not something they did before. The second video was from an Italian Company Nimbus who has developed a new patented aerial vehicle. NIMBUS EOS Xi is a unique flying platform, which will change the way of flying in the civilian field. As a partner of futureSME the process helped them to become more resilient and survive through a major change.

The last area that event focused on was the policy changes that the research team felt were necessary to influence Government thinking and direction. Jerome Finlayson, Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service, discussed this work the www.futureSME.eu project has completed this year with SMAS by creating a publication that helps Government and Agencies to create and develop a forward manufacturing strategy. This has implications for all SMEs across Europe. The publication was made available to all who attended.

A question and debate format was conducted with a panel of Chic Brodie MSP, Prof Umit Bititci and the other presenters. This prompted a range of questions on manufacturing strategy and development and support for Scotland’s SMEs. Feedback from the audience of over 80 attendees was positive about this type of event.

Quotes from SMEs

“….. the visual strategy tool has helped Linn undergo a complete cultural transformation in the way in which we plan for the future and monitor how the business is performing at a strategic level. With help from the futureSME team we created an initial visual strategy, taking the approach of creating a company roadmap, which we then further refined into company milestones…..” Gilad Tiefenbrun, LINN Products (2012)

The visual strategy has been a very useful exercise for us, and is something I’d like to think will continue to be used after the project has finished. At Houston’s we always thought we were good at strategy, but the FutureSME team showed us that there was a much better way of doing it that was more systematic and succinct. There’s nothing new in the underlying principles, but the approach is much more structured which gives us more confidence in the robustness of the outputs…..” Bill Dickie, Houston Bottling & Co-Pack

We strongly recommend the futureSME programme. In a constantly changing global environment, the futureSME programme taught us how to adapt to change, which has had a positive impact on our business. We urge for futureSME to be implemented throughout Turkey and the rest of Europe."

Atilla Eren, MD, Deka Elektroteknik A.S, Turkey